First sprint top-15 for an American
OBERSTDORF, Germany (Feb. 22) – Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) battled his way into finals of the men's 1.2K classic technique sprint Tuesday at the World Nordic Ski Championships. He eventually finished 12th with Vassili Rotchev of Russia taking the gold medal.
In a stunning development, reigning sprint world champion and World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway failed to make the final 16 skiers in the women's 900-meter sprint. Emelie Oehrstig of Sweden won gold with teammate Lina Andersson in second place while Sara Renner of Canada won the first nordic medal for a North American woman, capturing the bronze medal. Wendy Wagner (Park City, UT) was 24th with Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) 30th and Rebecca Dussault (Gunnison, CO) 42nd.
Newell qualified 16th in the hilly 1.2K prologue with Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) 32nd and Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK) 52nd. The top 16 skiers moved into the final round and with four-skier heats are held, the top two skiers advancing. He was third in his quarterfinal, and with third-place finishers from the four heats then ranked by their time, he was the 12th-place finisher. The sprints have been part of Worlds three times; Newell is the first U.S. skier to finish in the top 15.
“I had a decent qualification but it wasn't 100 percent, which makes me feel good because I know I can make top 16 and not have a 100 percent run,” said Newell, a Stratton Mountain School (VT) grad. “It was exciting to get here. The fans are awesome, the crowds awesome…and my skis were awesome. Our wax team did an awesome job today, and this is definitely a course where you need a little kick.”
Newell, whose best international result was 15th in the freestyle sprint at World Cup Finals last season, added, “To make the final at World Championships definitely feels better than making it at a World Cup, and hopefully these guys are realizing Americans are gonna be nipping at their heels more often now.”
Head Coach Trond Nystad said, “It's been a tough season, and we've still got some guys sick, but this was fantastic. Andrew wound up in a hard heat, but it was still a great event for him, a very positive result, for sure. And Kikkan and Wendy skied well, too, so it was a good day…and we'll definitely take it.”
The next cross country race in Oberstdorf, which also held the 1987 World Championships, is the men's 4x10K mixed technique relay with the team sprints Friday and distance races on the weekend – 30K CL for women Saturday and men's 50K CL Sunday.
2005 WORLD NORDIC SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Oberstdorf, GER – Feb. 22, 2005
Classic Sprints – 8 make semifinals
Men's 1.2K CL
1. Vassili Rotchev, Russia
2. Tor Arne Hetland, Norway
3. Thobias Fredriksson, Sweden
4. Bjoern Lind, Sweden
5. Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, Norway
6. Mats Larsson, Sweden
7. Janusz Krezelok, Poland
8. Nikolay Chebotko, Kazakhstan
12. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, Vt.
32. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, Wash.
52. Lars Flora, Anchorage, Alaska
Women's 900-meter CL
1. Emelie Oehrstig, Sweden
2. Lina Andersson, Sweden
3. Sara Renner, Canada
4. Anna Dahlberg, Sweden
5. Virpi Kuitunen, Finland
6. Viola Bauer, Germany
7. Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, Finland
8. Aino Kaisa Saarinen
24. Wendy Wagner, Park City, Utah
30. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, Alaska
42. Rebecca Dussault, Gunnison, Colo.
For complete cross country results:
Source: US Ski Team